Friday, May 25, 2012

Watching History Unfold

Watching History HappenHistory was made today when a private spacecraft, Space Exploration Technology Corporation, or SpaceX's Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station today just before noon local time.

It was amazing to watch history unfold in front of me on my computer monitor in near-real-time. I say near-real because of the delay due to the internet streaming the video, as well as the speed of light between the ISS and the earth stations.

When I stop to comprehend all that was happening, I realize I was watching video taken aboard the ISS, relayed down to earth, encoded, and then streamed from NASA across the internet to my corporation's network and then finally to my little Dell sitting there in front of me. Complete with audio. And the SpaceX Dragon team was using the same network (although with probably more direction connectivity between their California mission control and NASA) to communicate and control Dragon. All simultaneously with billions of other transactions across the country and around the world. The internet may have its issues, but when it works it truly is an invention of sublime beauty.

I couldn't be on the ISS in person, but technology allowed me to participate vicariously. This is literally the kind of technology I used to read about in high school, written decades before I found those books in the library. I still remember those stories, in particular how they concentrated on the technology, but not so much on how society in general might accept it. I always though that society would find technology, and specifically space travel, consuming most people's attentions. I was quickly disabused of that notion towards the end of the Apollo program. We took an incredible lead in space and spent the next forty years pissing it away. We spent hundreds of billions going around in LEO, first in the shuttle and latter in the shuttle and the ISS. With SpaceX, and all the other private commercial ventures trying to fly into space, we have a golden opportunity to reboot and really explore the solar system.

Waiting for Lunch

With ubiquitous technology I can follow events around the globe as well as above it with my wired and connected Android cellphone. So while I sit and wait for my take-out lunch, I can still follow news and events. And I don't mean just listening to the radio like I did as a kid with my portable transistor. I mean full internet interactivity with streaming video, literally in the palm of my hand. This is a capability that even all the Star Trek episodes could fully understand, and only very briefly touched upon in all their episodes.

While it's great to dream about flying above the sky, the realities of living on earth and in Florida tend to intrude. While we've had some recent thunder showers, the weather is getting hotter and dryer when it doesn't rain, leading to end of the spring flowers and a drying out of vegetation. Just the kind of conditions to create tinder for the fire season.

The Dwindling Flowers


Taken with the old-new Olympus E-PL1 (old in that it was introduced two years ago, new in that I just bought my copy a week or so ago). I'm using the Panasonic 20mm with it. It looks and operates wonderfully with all the little µ4/3rds primes. It is a fun little camera, and for $150 for the body (while supplies last) it's an absolute no-brainer to purchase. And I love the images that are coming off this sensor.


  1. Right Bill - the E-PL1 is a gem, especially when paired with superb glass like that small and cute 20mm Panny. Pretty picture within that first one by the way - did you take that yourself as well?

    1. Thanks. The image on the screen was a live feed from the ISS via SpaceFlight Now and their Mission Status Center for the Falcon 9 on the web. The Mission Status Center will probably stay active for the duration of the flight. As of right now the station crew have opened the Dragon and gone inside.

    2. Oh, I meant the photo in the frame, beside that screen...

    3. LOL! No, that was from a classic portraitist company here in Orlando. I don't even remember who they are anymore.

    4. I love my bargain E-PL1. It's opened up some nice opportunities for me that I would have never thought of with a DSLR. Just so tired of Big Bag Syndrome ;-)


All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.